by Joe Oliva
These images represent the Wisconsin Army National Guard "in the field" during Annual Training (AT) during the summers of 1998 and 1999.The photographs presented here were taken at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; Camp Grayling, Michigan; and Camp Ripley, Minnesota. The activities depicted here are of the Infantry, Field Artillery, Armor (Tanks), Combat Engineers, and Aviation.
There was one thing that repeatedly struck me during my time in the field. It was the realization that even with all the amazing technology and advanced weaponry available to our Armed Forces, what was true at the dawn of armed conflict is equally true today: Only soldiers can take ground, and only soldiers can hold ground. Because of that one simple, yet true fact, technology may make our ground forces more formidable, but technology can never remove the extreme dangers our soldiers (our neighbors) face in combat.
Though few Wisconsin Guard members are full time, they are all Professional Soldiers in every sense of the word. I was constantly struck by the fact that this helicopter pilot, artillery gunner, or combat engineer spanning a river could just as easily be my doctor, lawyer, insurance agent, or school teacher.
Our Wisconsin "Citizen Soldiers" have been called upon to serve around the world, from Operation Desert Storm, to peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, to humanitarian missions in Central America. They represent not just Wisconsinıs Finest, but America's Finest.
Special thanks to Brigadier General Kerry Denson, Deputy Adjutant General for Army, WI NG, whose vision and support for this project made it possible.
Tremendous thanks to LTC Tim Donovan, Public Affairs Officer for the Wisconsin National Guard and his staff. They were the people responsible for making these images happen. There was nothing easy or trivial about this project.
This exhibit was first displayed at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, Madison, March-August 2000
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